tv [untitled] March 1, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm EST
we take you live now to our simulcast with c-span radio's washington today for a recap of the day's political news. >> unmolested by government. >> i have news for supporters of the blunt amendment. we were not born yesterday and no matter how much you say this is nothing more than a restatement of old laws, the facts just are not with you. we have never had a conscience clause for insurance companies. >> from the floor of the senate earlier today senator barbara boxer democrat from california, senator orrin hatch, republican
of utah and the headline from the hill newspaper, the senate today rejecting an amendment put forth by senator roy blunt, republican from missouri that would limit the birth control mandate. welcome to hour one of washington today here on c-span radio. i'm steve scully. thanks for wk us. the vote in the senate was 51-48. it killed a controversial amendment to weaken the obama administration's policy requiring employers to provide birth control to their employees. we'll have more on this story coming up in just a moment. meanwhile more news on gasoline prices. they've speck 30 cents a gallon just in the last month. this is after all the first of march and in the month of february gas prices have risen. some buyers are buying fuel-efficient vehicles. it's helped ford, gm and chrysler. the president today is dismissing republican charges that his policies are driving up
gas prices, saying those claims would not pass what he calls the political bull detector. he told an audience in new hampshire today the biggest factor is instability in the middle east specifically involving iran. the headline from the national telegraph where the president was today in new hampshire, it was a brief visit to the national community college in which he vowed network on reducing foreign oil dependence but stressed there are missouriy f -- no easy fixes. let's begin with our lead story, the debate in the u.s. senate carried live on c-span 2 as the senate voted to table the measure from senator blunt which would let any employers to opt-out of the health care coverage man dates that violate their religious or moral beliefs. a couple of notes about those democrats who voted with the republicans. senator joe mantion, bill casey.
senator olympia snowe announced she will retire at the end the year was the only republican in favor of tabling the amendment. with that background let's take to you the floor of the senate. the sponsor of the amendment senator roy blunt of missouri. >> regarding any health care service that people may be worried about, we ask one question. are people allowed to exclude this service from their health care benefit under current state or federal law? and if they are not allowed to exclude it under current state or federal law they couldn't exclude it if this amendment would pass. if they are not allowed to exclude it, they are still not allowed to exclude it under this amendment. and if they are allowed to exclude such service, why haven't the critics been protesting before? this amendment doesn't change anything in the law today. so why haven't we heard these
speeches before about how the law doesn't protect employers from deciding not to offer this or not to offer that. in fact, this makes it much more difficult to exclude services than it is now. much more difficult to exclude services than it is now. and, in fact, it tells -- it allows for an ac turn arial equivalent to be added to a policy. there's no reason, no financial reason to exclude a service because if you exclude a service because you believe it's the wrong thing, the secretary of health and human services has the power to say you have to come back and include a new service that we didn't require of equal value. now i assume everybody on the other side of this debate would think that employers must be motivated to exclude these
services if they are not legitimate, religious belief and moral conviction that they must exclude them because they would save some money. we don't allow them to save money. so there's no reason. the secretary of health and human services says okay you'll exclude that but you have to include something that we didn't require of equal value. that means something equally used. something equally costly to the employer so why would the employer do that? i mean why aren't we hearing all these stories now about how employers are not -- why did the 200,000 women that had these health services today, i think it's 20 million, why, why do they have those services? there's nothing in the law that requires it. this law doesn't change the laws today. now, from the point of view of
having a political discussion instead of a discussion about what the amendment does or why it's consistent what we've always done, i think the other side has done a great job of that. but to consistently, we have protect this principle of first amendment freedoms. >> from roy blunt earlier today on the senate floor as he talked about his amendment. let's go back with some background. the white house policy requires employers to include contraceptive in their employers health care plan without charging a deductible. it excludes churches or house was worship. catholic hospitals would not have to directly cover birth control in their health care plans however their employees could still obtain it without a co-pay from their respective insurance companies. the hill newspaper said this fight has become a huge political issue with republicans seeking to frame i want as a battle over religious freedom, democrats saying it is about
contraception and a woman's right. among those leading the fight barbara boxer, democrat from california. >> the fact is they say that if you deny any coverage from the essential health benefits package or the preventative health package it's fine as long as you hide behind, my words, a moral objection. so this started out with birth control. and there was a hearing over in the house that is an iconic picture that will last through my lifetime and yours. mr. president, here's a photograph of a panel discussing women's health care over in the republican house. women's health care. do you see one woman there? i don't. they are all men. and these men are waxing
eloquent about birth control and the fact that oh, it's just a moral issue with them and they don't think women should have the right to have it. not one of them suggested that men shouldn't have their viagra, but we'll put that aside. we'll put that aside. not one woman was called and when a woman raised her hand in the audience and said i have a very important story to tell about a friend of mine who lost her ovary because she couldn't afford birth control, would have controlled the size the cyst, it was respond you're not qualified. only men are qualified to talk about women's issues. and we have men on the other side of the aisle here for the most part with a little assist telling women what their rights
should be. i cannot believe this battle. on a highway bill. on a transportation bill. where 2.8 million jobs are at stake. we have been diverted with this amendment about women's health and look at the different important benefits that any insurer, any employer could walk away from because if this amendment passes they have the right to do it. they would no longer have to cover emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health treatment, pediatric services, rehabilitative services, ambulatory patient services, laboratory services, they would no longer have to offer breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, all they have to do is say oh, i'm really sorry we believe prayer is the answer we don't believe in
chemotherapy, we believe that, you know, if someone is heavy, they are obese and they get diabetes we have a moral objection to helping them because you know what? they didn't lead a clean life. >> comments of senator barbara boxer earlier on the floor, democrat from california again as the senate defeated the amendment put forward by senator blunt of missouri that would allow employers to refuse to cover health services dealing republicans a high-profile setback in the fight over the president's contraception coverage amendment. one other point that the u.s. conference of catholic bishops is expected to take this case further asking supporters that this is just the first battle in a long war over the president's health care bill and specifically this clause in the provision. joining us on the phone from capitol hill is neil. he's following the story. thanks very much for being with us. >> thank you. >> let's first take a step back. this was the transportation bill, an amendment put forth by senator blunt.
how did that come about? >> well when this began shortly after the whole issue with the president's change to the rules regarding contraception came out, senator mcconnell, the republican leader, senator blunt, senator rubio, several other senators announced that they wanted to take some sort of action to oppose the administration decision and it just so happened that at that point in time the transportation bill was the measure that was on the senate floor at that time. it was a situation of happen stance. >> and the political fireworks we saw on the senate floor, some angry words by senator boxer, senator hatch said this is not an issue of contraceptive care this is an issue of religious rights? >> right. that is the debate on the two
sides. the democrats generally contend that this is primarily an attack on women's health care and contraception specifically but the republicans say that there's an underlying first amendment issue here, senator hatch, senator mcconnell and others saying that this could infringe on the rights of religious institutions and their affiliates to cover services or force them to cover services that they find morally objectionable. >> let me ask you about the reaction from the u.s. conference of catholic bishops saying it expects to build on today's vote to push the case to overturn this contraception coverage rule in the house of representatives. and obviously they are aligning themselves with republicans. this is quickly becoming an election year issue. >> certainly. and as we have seen in the last
few weeks on the campaign trail with former senator santorum on the republican side speaking about this issue frequently, i expect that we'll hear more about it on both sides in congressional elections. i was talking to senator chuck schumer, the new york democrat earlier today and he told me that, he was telling me that the issue he doesn't think the blunt amendment will play well for the -- excuse me. that he does not think that this will play well for republicans who voted in favor of it in places like new england where the voters tend to be more liberal on social issues. >> we're talking with neil lesniewski who is following the story. he's the editor for cq senate
watch. we heard from harry reid who said this is an extreme ideological view of the right. in one sense did the democrats welcome this vote, democrats in the senate? >> oh, i think absolutely they did. once it became clear that the republicans wanted to have this vote initially, the democrats increasingly have been seeking about it. they launched a bit of a media blitz in the past week in sort of to bring up the opposition to it. senator patty murray who chairs the democratic senatorial campaign committee says this is a key issue. >> where does it go next? >> immediately you notice the statement by the conference of catholic bishops. they seem to be indicating they
are is going to take this to the courts as well as to the house of representatives, and the question will be whether or not the house republican leadership wants to have this vote in the weeks ahead. >> niels lesniewski joining us live on capitol hill with the sound in the background. thank you very much for being with us. we appreciate it. >> thank you. this is "washington today" on c-span radio heard coast to coast on xm channel 113. streamed live all the time. house speaker john boehner offering few details about how and when the house when and if it does take up this issue. he was asked about it earlier today during his weekly news conference on capitol hill. >> you said you wanted to see what happens in the senate before forging ahead on something in the house here. is there debate in your conference as to what the appropriate tack is? we've talked to a number of
members in your conference who say yeah this is the wrong thing to do and we want this changed. is there not a consensus? >> think it's important for us to win this issue. the government, our government for 220 years has respected the religious views of the american people. for all of this time there's been an exception for those churches and other groups to protect the religious beliefs that they believe in. that's being violated here. i've been trying to take this out of the political realm and get it into a position where, where we can continue to protect the american people's right to their own religious views. and so that's -- and there's a lot of ways to do that.
there's one in the senate. we got a couple of ideas in the house. but it's a matter of how do we proceed. >> what do you mean win on this issue? >> it's important that we continue to protect the religious beliefs of the american people from their government, and their government encroaching in this arena in 220 years and it shouldn't happen in this case. >> do you think that the house should pass legislation that would exempt all businesses from the requirement, from the contraception requirement? >> the issue here is protecting the conscience clause and the religious beliefs of the american people from an encroachment from their government. >> senator orrin hatch said this is an issue of religious freedom not an issue of contraceptive rights for women. but you may remember last week the house democratic leader nancy pelosi, former speaker of the house, held a hearing in which she focused on this issue
including that georgetown law student who by the way got some attention today on rush limbaugh based on his comments on his radio program, comment we won't repeat but getting a lot of attention. so today the democratic leader in the house, nancy pelosi responding to this debate. >> talking about march being women's history month and talking about this assault on women. we've talked to a number of catholic women who see the contraception issue, see this differently. you're a catholic woman. what is the divide in this in the catholic church? how do you view in this your faith compared to the way they are interpreting it in terms of how it pertains to their faith? >> this is a woman's issue. i don't know who the people you spoke to but i know the record shows that 90% of catholic women of child bearing age use birth
control. so this is a woman's health issue. it's a matter of conscience for each woman. her doctor, her husband, her family and her god to make their own decisions and as a catholic i support the right of a woman to make that decision. this is about women's health those. talked about mammograms and cervical and ovaryi0varian canc screening. so birth control is not just about reproduction it's all in the larger sense about a fuller picture of women's health. >> the comments of the democratic leader in the house, nancy pelosi. again as the debate continued here in washington, the headline, the senate failing to approve an amendment put forth by senator roy blunt and just one other note about rush limbaugh for using a derogerer to term about that law student. at one point calling her a
prostitute and using other words. rush limbaugh defending his comments on his radio program. this is "washington today." warning tonight for those in the midwest about more potential deadly tornadoes moving through this after tornadoes hit tennessee and kentucky, elsewhere in the midwest as many as 13 people confirmed dead. on the senate floor earlier today remarks by the republican leader mitch mcconnell from kentucky. >> we've had severe storms and tornadoes that cut through the midwest yesterday, including hitting my state of kentucky. people across the blue grass state are still recovering this morning from considerable damage caused by very severe weather. the national weather service has confirmed four tornadoes struck in kentucky with winds of up to 125 miles per hour. these funnel clouds were sighted in elizabethtown, eastern grayson county, larue county and
the home of abraham lincoln's birth place. in all the national weather service has confirmed at least 16 tornadoes across the country through seven states, nebraska, kansas, missouri, illinois, tennessee, indiana and kentucky. over 300 reports of severe weather across the region described frightening details such as wind gusts of over 80 miles per hour and golf size hail storms. there were reports of power outages for thousands of people particularly in my home town of louisville. downed power lines, flash flooding were reported all across the state. news reports and accounts from my own staff tell me there's been considerable damage across kentucky including dozens of homes and businesses damaged and several people injured. two people in mccracken county near paducah were rescued from
an overturned mobile home and rushed to the hospital in critical condition. from what we know at this point, however, thankfully it appears no lives were lost in kentucky. unfortunately the same cannot be said elsewhere as the severe weather that was that raged through six other states reportedly has claimed at least 12 lives. i join my colleagues from the affected states in keeping think thoughts today, keeping in my thoughts today all those affected by these storms especially those families lost in these tragic and unforeseen circumstances. i also want to extend my gratitude to the first responders in kentucky and across the entire midwest who have risen to the occasion and provided the much needed response and relief. i want to particularly thank the kentucky national guard who is there to assist as always when disaster strikes. authorities are warning us that the threat from severe weather is not over. more storms are expected today in alabama, tennessee and again in kentucky. we'll continue to keep a close
eye on kentucky and other states in the affected region and make sure people have everything they need to clean up, rebuild and reclaim their dignity from the wreckage of this tragedy. >> and fema is now involved in that clean up operation as you heard from from mitch mcconnell among those hard hit states of illinois, kentucky, kansas and missouri. harrisburg, illinois where six deaths were reported as you heard from senator mcconnell, 13 confirmed deaths as a result of 16 tornadoes across the midwest. and the "l.a. times" reprinting an associated press story this cleanup continues from the deadly tornadoes in the midwest a second storm system could generate more twisters in the same hard hit areas predicting to hit overnight into friday morning. this is "washington today" on c-span radio. some other news today on wall street the dow was up 28, closing at 12,980. nasdaq was up 22, s&p was up
eight. the hill newspaper reporting on house majority lead eric cantor saying today that reps would bring up and pass their jobs bill next week. and the hill saying it was met by a cooperative house minority whip steny hoyer who is a democrat are expected to support it. the weekly cantor/hoyer colloquies are rhetoric battles in which each seek to blame each other for shortcomings. but today's cooperative tone between two leaders prompted one participant to remark at the end just within range of the microphone, calm how calm was that. the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to the lowest point in four years. a seasonally adjusted 351,000 people sought unemployment aid down from 353,000 the previous week. this is all according to the labor department. applications for aid have fallen steadily since the early fall and are now down nearly 15%
since october when applications dropped consistently below 375,000 that usually signals that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate. one afghan policeman says when he sees a u.s. military convoy roll by he turns around and spitz. he says they will never be forgiven for betraining the holy book. this reflects the continuing anger of the burning of koran at the u.s. base. six u.s. service members have been killed since then by their afghan partners including two who were shot down today by two afghan soldiers and an accomplice. pentagon said nato forces shot one of the two assailant, apparently soldiers. the u.s. expressing its relief that egypt lifted a travel ban against seven democracy workers. the decision was made by egypt's judicial system, but she cautions the case is not over. she says no decision has been
made on $1.5 billion aid that the u.s. wanted to provide to egypt. money was by some put in jeopardy by egypt's decision to charge americans with fomenting unrest. back in one minute with more "washington today. ing lacked capacity to be brilliant but detached which i think is a very important quality. could not do that. and so as a result of this, george himself made it difficult
to work with himself. >> john lewis discussing his book "george f. ken dean." we'll talk about his book with susan glacier. this friday at 7:00 p.m. eastern on after words on c-span radio. david gregory, george stephanopoulos. >> hear talk shows replayed every friday afternoon. nbc's "meet the press", abc's this week. cnn state of the union and cbs's "face the nation." the top issues, key political figures and the journalist round tables. brought to you as a public service by c-span and the networks. replays of the sunday tv network talk shows sundays starting at noon eastern on c-span radio. >> welcome back to c-span radio's "washington today" heard on coast to coast channel 119.
presidential politics with an eye on the november election taens electoral college map. at the end. day the electoral college will determine who is our next president, whether barack obama is re-elected or whether the republicans or potentially an independent candidate. if the race were held today the republicans would get 197 electoral votes. the democrats, barack obama and joe biden 227 electoral votes and so the rest are up for grabs. jim is the president's campaign manager and in december at barack obama.com he outlined the strategy for the president to get re-elected with the map to 270 electoral votes. >> how we start this is the kerry map. the votes that john kerry carried those are states we can carry. we deed that different path weighs. first is the west. something i care deeply about sings i'm from out there.
one. places we believe in the future to decide presidential election. colorado and nevada are states that democrats haven't won for a very long time. i've been in both states in the past couple month, really good teams and this is why we do what we do. we believe if we register more voters, start putting teams into place and start talking to voters we can win these states. if we can win colorado, new mexico, nevada and add that to iowa, barack obama wins again. second is florida. can't just have a florida strategy but florida is the easiest way to 270 electoral votes. we have a big operation on the ground in florida. we're working hard to carry florida. next is the south. you have north carolina and virginia. we call this is the new south map. we put the democratic national convention, charlotte, north carolina in part because we believe so deeply in this map. we had big electoral wins in 2011 on the ground. great neighborhood teams in north carolina. virginia is one of the bellwethers of national